BACKGROUND: The influence of socioeconomic status (SES) on cardiovascular diseases and risk factors is widely known, although the role of different SES indicators is not fully understood. The aim of this study was to investigate the role of different SES indicators for cardiovascular disease risk factors in a middle and old aged East German population.
METHODS: Cross-sectional data of an East German population-based cohort study (1779 men and women aged 45 to 83) were used to assess the association of childhood and adulthood SES indicators (childhood SES, education, occupational position, income) with cardiovascular risk factors. Adjusted means and odds ratios of risk factors by SES indicators with 95% confidence intervals (CI) were calculated by linear and logistic regression models, stratified by sex. The interaction effect of education and age on cardiovascular risk factors was tested by including an interaction term.
RESULTS: In age-adjusted models, education, occupational position, and income were statistically significantly associated with abdominal obesity in men, and with smoking in both sexes. Men with low education had a more than threefold risk of being a smoker (OR 3.44, CI 1.58-7.51). Low childhood SES was associated with higher systolic blood pressure and abdominal obesity in women (OR 2.27, CI 1.18-4.38 for obesity); a non-significant but (in terms of effect size) relevant association of childhood SES with smoking was observed in men. In women, age was an effect modifier for education in the risk of obesity and smoking.
CONCLUSIONS: We found considerable differences in cardiovascular risk factors by education, occupational position, income, and partly by childhood social status, differing by sex. Some social inequalities levelled off in higher age. Longitudinal studies are needed to differentiate between age and birth cohort effects.
2011. Vol. 11, 289- p.